WhatsApp Battles Misinformation Amid Pressure From Indian Government

Frederick Owens
July 10, 2018

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had last week asked for greater accountability from WhatsApp, saying that the government will not tolerate any misuse of the platform to spread fake messages created to "provoke" and "instigate" people. And if the answer is yes, think twice before sharing it again. "Our first step is placing newspaper advertisements in English and Hindi and several other languages".

It urged users to check information before sharing it and cautioned them about the spread of fake news.

"Do not pay attention to the number of times you receive the message", it reads. The company will highlight messages to help users understand that it has not been originally typed out.

With fake news and lynchings more visible than ever, WhatsApp has become a convenient scapegoat for everything that's wrong with the country right now. "We will build on these efforts", outlines the news advertisement.

"We ban accounts based on user reports and by the manner in which messages are sent".

As such any link is still private to the person who received it and the one who sent it.

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Most recently a mob surrounded and killed five men in Maharashtra state denounced as child kidnappers, a pernicious rumor blamed for similar murders in at least 11 Indian states.

A stern statement issued by the electronics and IT ministry late on Tuesday expressed the government's "deep disapproval" to the senior management of WhatsApp over the "irresponsible and explosive messages".

Previously, WhatsApp announced a new feature that will allow the group administrators to restrict participants from sending messages to the group.

Indian officials said the company could not "evade accountability and responsibility".

Election related information is a core area that WhatsApp is looking at, along with questions on processing problematic events, virality, and digital literacy.

Facebook-owned Whatsapp is reportedly working on a Suspicious Link Detection feature to curb spam messages from spreading on its platform.

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